Tech Leads Debate on Games Addressing Social Issues

Georgia Tech leads debate on how video games can address social, political and health issues

As video games take their place in popular culture and mass media, new genres are emerging that take games beyond entertainment. On Thursday, March 29 Georgia Tech presents Living Game Worlds III: Playing with Reality, a symposium bringing together game developers, scholars and activists for a day-long discussion on nonfiction and documentary games. Also known as serious games, games for change, persuasive games, newsgaming, and sometimes educational games, presenters will explore special challenges and opportunities presented by games that tackle real world topics ranging from promoting healthy behaviors to the Columbine massacre to the international conflict in Darfur.

"For this third year of the Living Game Worlds symposium, we decided to focus the discussion on a specific aspect of gaming - games that tackle real-world themes and topics," says Celia Pearce, assistant professor of digital media, Georgia Tech School of Literature, Communication and Culture and lead organizer of Living Game Worlds III. "There's a growing understanding that games can be about more than 'just entertainment,' but like film documentaries, can open people's eyes to serious issues ranging from social, political, health and education."

"Georgia Tech is a leader in multimedia, gaming and interactive technologies," says Elizabeth Mynatt, director of the GVU Center at Georgia Tech and associate professor in the Georgia Tech College of Computing. "Through the annual Living Game Worlds symposium, we offer a multidisciplinary look at these converging technologies and how they impact and represent the real world."

"Living Game Worlds exemplifies the Digital Media program's commitment to expanding the expressive power of the computer, and to exploring ways in which new genres of expression can advance knowledge and human community," says Janet Murray, professor and director of the Digital Media Graduate Program in Tech's School of Literature, Communication and Culture.

Georgia Tech's Digital Media Graduate Program in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture and the GVU Center at Georgia Tech present Living Game Worlds III in the third year of this successful symposium exploring digital media, gaming and interactive technologies.

Living Game Worlds III also includes keynote addresses by Katie Salen, executive director, Gamelab Institute of Play and associate professor in Design and Technology, Parsons The New School for Design (New York) and Tracy Fullerton, co-director, Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab and assistant professor, Interactive Media Division, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Panel discussions will feature experts from industry, non-profits and academia discussing issues in digital media including design process, interactive design, games, and games addressing political, social, health and environmental issues. The day closes with demos and exhibits. The live webcast and detailed agenda are available at

About the Digital Media Graduate Program
The Georgia Tech Digital Media Graduate Program provides both the theoretical and the practical foundation for careers as digital media researchers and designers in academia and industry. The advent of a new medium of human communication and representation is a significant event in human social and cultural history, and introduces the possibility of new genres of artistic expression as well as new forms of information and knowledge transmission. The study of these new forms - from the point of view of the creators and the analysts - is an emerging field, one that requires a convergence of the methodologies of several traditional disciplines, and one that is also defining its own methodologies of research and practice. The Graduate Program in Digital Media is in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture (LCC) in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech.

About the GVU Center
The GVU Center is a university-wide, interdisciplinary research center that spans the Georgia Tech campus and includes many outside collaborators. Its faculty and students are drawn from disciplines in science, engineering, the humanities and design. The Center enables collaborative research that is often difficult to achieve in traditional academic and industrial settings. The unique combinations of research interests and expertise are the catalyst for significant insights into the rapidly evolving landscape of people and computation. The GVU Center conducts research in crucial areas of human experiences with computing including health care, education, work and home life, and entertainment. The Center consistently leads the forefront of research in fields such as human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, mixed and augmented reality, animation and graphics, wearable computing, information visualization, educational technologies, new media and communications, intelligent systems and robotics.